Reliability of clinical diagnosis in intraarticular hip diseases

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2010 May;18(5):685-90. doi: 10.1007/s00167-009-1024-5. Epub 2010 Jan 8.


This study investigated the ability of experienced orthopedic surgeons to agree on a diagnosis of labral tear, femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), and capsular laxity using clinical examination. Eight patients under the care of an experienced hip arthroscopist underwent independent clinical evaluations by six orthopedic surgeons who specialized in management hip pain. No attempt was made to regulate the evaluation process as surgeons performed their examination as they would in their own practice. Average subject age was 27 years (19-47 years) with five females and three males. Subjects subsequently underwent arthroscopic surgery by the treating surgeon. Surgical findings were recorded with respect to the presence or absence of a labral tear, FAI, and/or capsular laxity. The percent agreement between the surgical findings and clinical examinations were determined. Surgical findings noted four subjects had a labral tear, five FAI, and three laxity. Based on clinical examination, surgeons agreed 63, 65 and 58% of the time with the surgical diagnosis of labral tear, FAI, and capsular laxity, respectively. The level of agreement did not seem to be dependent on the size or type of labral tear. Also, the ability to detect FAI did not seem to depend on whether the lesion was a cam, pincer, combined cam/pincer or size of the cam lesion. This study offers support that clinical examination techniques used for making a diagnosis needs to be improved and standardized if they are to be useful in diagnosing specific pathologies found with arthroscopic hip surgery.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Hip Joint*
  • Humans
  • Joint Capsule / injuries*
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Physical Examination*
  • Young Adult